According to a recent study in Canada, outdoor exercise improves mood of postmenopausal women and helps them stick with this habit for longer than those who engage in physical activity indoors.
To conduct the research, researchers enrolled 23 postmenopausal women in their 50s and 60s to participate in an exercise program for 12 weeks. All of them normally had sedentary lifestyles and exercised less than twice a week, took no medications, did not smoke and had no symptoms of depression or only mild ones.
The women were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group exercised together outdoors three times per week, while the other group followed the same program indoors. The exercise programs included both aerobic exercises and strength training.
Both groups were asked about how they were feeling before and halfway through their midweek sessions. In addition, before and after their workouts, the women answered questionnaires designed to measure feelings of positive engagement, revitalization, physical exhaustion and tranquility.
The study team found that on average, the women who exercised outdoors had a greater sense of tranquility after working out and attended more sessions than the indoor exercise group – 97 percent of the 36 sessions in the trial for the outdoor exercisers compared to 91 percent of sessions attended by the indoor group.
The outdoor exercisers also showed decreased depressive symptoms and increased activity levels outside of the workout sessions, compared to the women who exercised indoors and whose general activity level didn’t change.
Results of the three-month trial suggest that outdoor exercise programs should be promoted to help older women keep active, the researchers conclude.
“Being physically active is essential to be healthy and remain functional with age,” said senior author Isabelle Dionne of the University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke in Quebec.
Dionne’s team wrote in the journal Menopause that only about 13 percent of Canadian women older than 59 years and less than 9 percent of older American adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week
Dionne explained that exercise is important for postmenopausal women because it helps to decrease the prevalence of chronic diseases, physical disability, cancer, and infections and reduces the risk of dementia.
“Finding the right activity, meaning that it provides pleasure and motivation, is the key to remaining active as long as possible,” she added.
Dionne said that one of her Master’s degree students had observed that women who exercised outside seemed to be happier.
“Training outdoors brings a whole new dimension to being active and provides so many stimuli that people adhere to a larger extent than going to a gym or training in groups indoors,” she said.
Furthermore, the researcher said that the women training outside were in a better mood, more motivated and satisfied with their training program. She also mentioned that there are a growing number of ways to train outdoors such as taking outdoor physical activity lessons, or exercising in outdoor gyms, kids’ parks and city “green areas.”
The study author said that similar results have been shown in studies of younger women.
“Regarding men, we do not have scientific evidence and we can only assume that it is somewhat the same,” Dionne concluded.
The study was published in the journal Menopause.
Through: Reuters, Menopause